Black-eyed peas (*Vigna unguiculata*), also known as cowpeas or southern peas, are legumes native to West Africa that thrive in hot climates. The most popular variety of black-eyed pea is cream-colored with a black "eye" at the hilum (the place where the pea attaches to its pod). If you grow your own black-eyed peas, you can steam or sauté the long green pods like you would green beans.\n\nUnlike other dried beans, black-eyed peas cook fast on the stovetop (about 30 minutes in a large pot of boiling water). If you're used to [soaking your beans and cooking them for hours](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/a-guide-to-legumes) on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, you'll be surprised by how quickly black-eyed peas turn to mush—which is actually how they're typically eaten in West Africa. \n\nMany recipes for stewed black-eyed peas use ham hocks, ham bones, or chicken stock to infuse the beans with savory, meaty flavor. It's also easy to make meatless or vegan black-eyed peas in vegetable broth by building a base of flavor using vegetables such as onion and diced tomato and spices like bay leaves and black pepper.\n\nBlack-eyed peas are a versatile legume and a Southern staple. There are many ways to serve them, including:\n\n1. __Hoppin' John__ is a South Carolina Lowcountry dish made from black-eyed peas cooked with rice and aromatics such as bell pepper, tomato, and garlic cloves. Hoppin' John is traditionally made for New Year's Day and served with cornbread and collard greens. \n2. __Black-eyed pea salad__ is a chilled alternative to stewed black-eyed peas. Add raw red bell pepper, chopped fresh herbs, and a simple homemade vinaigrette to the cooked and cold beans.\n3. __Texas caviar__ is a black-eyed pea-based salsa served with corn chips.\n4. *__Akara__* are West African fritters made with black-eyed peas (known as *akkra* in the Caribbean and *acarajé* in Brazil). \n5. *__Louvi__* is a dish from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It is made with black-eyed peas and Swiss chard.\n6. *__Che dau trang__* is a sweet Vietnamese sticky rice pudding made with black-eyed peas and coconut milk.\n7. __Vegan burgers__ are easy to make with black-eyed peas and a grain [such as millet](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-cook-millet) or [quinoa](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-cook-quinoa-tips-techniques-and-easy-recipes).\n\nThere are many ways to cook black-eyed peas, but even the simplest stewed black-eyed peas make for a flavorful entree. Serve black-eyed peas over rice, with a side of cornbread, or alongside sautéed greens like collard greens, kale, Swiss chard, or turnip greens.\n\nBlack-eyed peas are a soul food staple and an easy-to-cook, protein-packed legume.